What are the signs of nursing home abuse?

Ohio prohibits nursing home neglect and abuse and provide legal options for family members. There are several signs of elder abuse that should be investigated and pursued.

Physical abuse is any force that leads to bodily injury, physical pain or impairment. It includes striking, beating, pushing, shoving, shaking, kicking, punching or burning. Other forms include improper administration of drugs, physical restraints and force feeding.

Signs and symptoms of physical abuse include bruises, black eyes and rope marks, fractures, open wounds and untreated injuries in various healing phases, sprains, and internal injuries and bleeding. Other suspicious signs are broken eyeglasses, signs of being restrained, laboratory report of drug overdose or under-use of prescribed drugs.

Investigation should also commence if a resident report that they were hit, slapped or mistreated or if they suddenly change their behavior. Family members should also be suspicious when a facility or caregiver does not allow them to visit the resident alone.

Abuse also includes sexual misconduct that involves any non-consensual sexual contact, any unwanted touching, rape, sodomy, forced nudity and sexually-revealing photography. Signs include bruises around the genitals or breasts, sexually-transmitted diseases or genital infections that cannot be explained and unexplained vaginal or anal bleeding. Additionally, investigation should follow-up on a resident's complaint of being sexually assaulted or if there is torn, stained or bloody underclothes.

Abuse also nonphysical emotional or psychological abuse. This is the imposition of anguish or distress through acts such as verbal insults, threats, intimidation, harassment and humiliation.

This abuse also occurs when a caregiver treats an older resident like an infant and imposes isolation from their family, friends and regular activities. Forced social isolation and not communicating with a resident are other forms of this abuse.

Indications of emotional and psychological abuse include a resident being upset, agitated, being withdrawn, silent and non-responsive. They may also engage in odd behavior that is usually confused with dementia such as sucking and rocking. A resident's report of this abuse should also be investigated.

Experienced attorneys can help safeguard residents against this abuse and other neglect. Legal representation can help assure that nursing homes and its staff are held accountable for this conduct.

Source: Ohio Hopes, "Types & signs of abuse," Accessed Nov. 27, 2017

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